Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday (24 February) handed over 155 houses built under an Indian project to people in the island nation’s tea-producing region populated by Tamils of Indian origin, FT Lanka reported.
India has pledged to aid in the construction of 63,000 houses in Sri Lanka including 46,000 homes built in the war ravaged northern and eastern part of the country, largely populated by ethnic Tamils, and another 14,000 upcoming houses in the hill country dominated by Tamils of Indian origin.
The 155 houses were handed over to beneficiaries in a special ceremony held on 24 February, at Bridwell Estate in Bogawantalawa, Hatton by Wickremesinghe and High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu in the presence of Minister for Hill country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Palani Digambaram.
Wickremesinghe thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the development support extended to Sri Lanka.
The High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu congratulated the owners of the newly built independent houses. He highlighted that the Indian Housing Project in Sri Lanka with a grant of over $350 million (close to Rs 50 billion), was the largest Indian grant assistance project in any country abroad. He also recalled that out of the total commitment of 63,000 houses, 47,000 houses had already been built.
The Indian Tamils are the descendants of the Tamil labourers, who were taken to the Island by the British colonialists to provide the much needed labour in the coffee, tea, rubber and coconut plantations, and also in many public works in different parts of the island. They formed the bulk the of labour which turned the malaria-infested forests of Ceylon into highly productive plantations, earning precious foreign exchange, and which sustains the Sri Lankan economy even today.
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